Tokyo 2020: Sharath Kamal moves up; Manika Batra, Sutirtha Mukherjee exit

Sharath Kamal
Sharath Kamal bounced back to enter the third round. File photo: AFP

Tokyo: Veteran Indian table tennis player A Sharath Kamal overcame a sluggish start to beat Portugal's Tiago Polonia in the men's singles second round but it was curatins for Manika Batar and Sutirtha Mukherjee in womens' singles at the Tokyo Olympics.

Manika lost to Sofia Polcanova of Austria 8-11, 2-11, 5-11, 7-11 to in the third round, while Sutirtha was overwhelmed by Potugal's Yu Fu.

The 39-year-old Sharath struggled in the first game but pulled himself up just in time to win 2-11, 11-8, 11-5, 9-11, 11-6, 11-9 in 49 minutes to set up a clash with defending champion Ma Long from China.

Considered one of the greatest players of all time, Long has won every singles title in the sport, and is the reigning world champion as well.

Manika started off by winning the first point with an attacking backhand, going up 2-0. But Sofia clawed back to take the first game 11-8. The Austrian, ranked 16th in the world, was at her dominant best in taking the lead in the second game as Manika lost nine points on the trot.

In the third game, Sofia took the lead again from 3-3. She displayed a lot of variety and unsettled Manika's forehand to run away with the game. Manika tried returning with a lot of power but found the net often.

The fourth game was a mere formality for Sofia as she progressed into the quarterfinals. Sutirtha  was no challenge to 42-year-old Yu Fu as the China-born bested her in straight sets in the women's singles second round.

Sutirtha, who showed remarkable grit for a come-from-behind win over Sweden's Linda Bergstrom, looked completely off-colour to lose 3-11, 3-11, 5-11, 5-11 in a 23-minute affair against the world number 55.

The Indian world number 98 managed just two points on her serve to lose the first game in no time.

Sutirtha took a timeout trailing 1-4 in the third game to talk to her coach Soumyadeep Roy, seemingly to upset the rhythm of Yu-Fu but the veteran kept going strong.

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